About Teresa

Teresa Cooper is a 30-something wife, mom and teacher from Havelock, North Carolina. She has a Masters of Science in Education for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment from Walden University and a BA in Psychology with a minor in Creative from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having struggled with anxiety and depression most of her life and later having birthed a child with autism, she is passionate about spreading awareness and acceptance of mental illness and autism and has been writing for Embracing the Spectrum since 2011. She also writes for The Mighty, The Huffington Post, and The Educator’s Room.

Last year, I began an interactive notebook in my math class after a lot of thought about the process. I had already begun the school year and didn’t want to change up how I did things but wound up deciding midway through the year to begin interactive notebooks. In the end, the decision to start the notebooks came down to one huge reason to start organization.

The Case of the Missing Notes

Beginning these interactive notebooks meant students would then paste their notes via foldables into their notebooks. Unfortunately, at the time I began these notebooks, many students threw away their notes or lost hole-punched papers they should have placed into binders. Of course, the students who were good at staying organized could always find their notes with this method. However, the students who had issues with organization frequently lost their notes. Once I began the interactive notebooks, the number of students who failed to locate their notes reduced drastically. I uploaded photos of the notebook I kept along with them at least once a week, and this helped students keep up with their notes.

Once I began the interactive notebooks, the number of students who failed to locate their notes… Click To Tweet

Materials Needed for an Interactive Notebook

You might wonder what you need in order to start an interactive notebook. Students purchase their own notebooks (either spiral or composition will work) and hopefully already purchased highlighters and/or colored pencils from other classes. Make sure you keep glue sticks handy and provide foldables to make the interactive notebooks, well, interactive. Color code the notes, especially when showing students how to identify like terms, use substitution to solve equations, or use the proper equation for geometry problems.

How to Get Students Started

Begin the students by having them sign a notebook pledge. The pledge is simple: They will write what you write, make a title page and table of contents, and keep organized while you pledge never to have them write anything that isn’t valuable. Make students aware that some things should go on loose paper to turn in while others go inside the notebook.  You should let them know when and where to write. Periodically check the notebooks in the beginning so students know you are serious about the importance of staying organized. Once the students see the value of the interactive notebook, the rest will take care of itself.

I will be documenting my first full year of using interactive notes this year and sharing the results with you. Stay tuned for more tips and cool pictures from my notebook and some of my students’ notebooks!

Have you ever used interactive notebooks before? Share your tips in the comments!

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